Palmer happy to be wrong about halo

Finley Crebolder

After the halo all but saved Romain Grosjean’s life, Jolyon Palmer has said that he’s happy to admit that he was wrong about it.

Grosjean somehow emerged from his horror crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix largely unharmed, that’s largely due to the device that was introduced in 2018.

Back then, Palmer was against it, but that’s no longer the case.

“The halo was clearly a contributing factor in saving the Frenchman,” he said in his column for the BBC.

“First, it took the hit from the barrier, even piercing the steel and almost certainly deflecting it from hitting the driver’s head-on impact.

“Secondly, it also meant Grosjean was afforded some wriggle room in the cockpit that may have aided his escape from his burning wreckage.

Alongside Grosjean and several other drivers at the time, I was very anti-halo when governing body the FIA, under the guidance of its F1 director Charlie Whiting, was working to introduce it a few years ago.

“To me, a canopy over the driver’s head was taking away from the very ethos of F1 – an open-cockpit sport.

“But Grosjean’s accident has demonstrated very clearly that motorsport is full of dangers, some of which you cannot anticipate. Clearly, introducing the halo was the right thing to do.”

The severity of the crash, in which Grosjean’s car split in half before setting alight, was largely caused by the collapse of the barrier he hit.

Palmer thinks this is a safety concern and hopes that it leads to the sport making more improvements when it comes to safety.

“After an accident like this, the drivers will want assurances from the FIA safety experts as to what caused it and what will be done to stop it happening again,” he added.

“Grosjean’s impact was big, but we have seen bigger offs in the past and less horrendous outcomes. The fact the car went through the barrier rather than ricocheting off it appeared to be the cause of such a shocking result.

“The FIA will conduct a thorough investigation into what went wrong in this instance and what it can improve.

“The immediate concern is that the same type of barrier Grosjean hit lines almost the entire Bahrain circuit, and F1 cars are able to get up to – and therefore crash – at higher speeds than Grosjean did.

“Often in the past, it is fatal accidents that have brought about safety improvements. On this occasion, if safety improvements must be made, we can thank the existing measures that it has not come at the cost of a driver’s life.”

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